If you want to add images to your auctions, chances are you've wondered just how to get those image files online. The answer may be in three little letters: FTP.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It's an age-old Internet tool whose purpose is to move files from one computer to another. When you need to copy a picture from your computer to your online image storage space, FTP is often the tool to use.
FTP is a necessary evil for including images in eBay auctions. You don't need to use FTP if you're selling on Yahoo!Auctions or Amazon Auctions: both of those sites include a handy tool for uploading pictures using your Web browser. At Yahoo!Auctions item submission page, press the "Add Photos" link, then press Browse to locate the picture file on your hard drive. From Amazon Auctions' "Sell an Item" page, check the "Upload my image" box, then press Browse. (Why hasn't eBay added a similar trick, you ask? Good question.)
To send files with FTP, you'll need an FTP client, the program that do the file transfer voodoo. There are a lot of good shareware and free FTP clients to choose from. If your computer runs Windows, try CoffeeCup Free FTP (http://www.bluedomino.com/freesoftware/coffeefreeftp.zip) or CuteFTP ($39.95 shareware, available from http://www.cuteftp.com). If you're a Mac user, go for the elegant program Anarchie ($30 shareware, available from http://www.stairways.com) or the aging but capable client Fetch ($25 shareware, http://www.dartmouth.edu/pages/softdev/fetch.html).
Although each FTP client is different, the basic method of uploading files is always the same: connect to the server that will host the images and log in with your username and password. You'll need to get the FTP server name, login and password info from your ISP or image hosting site. (By the way, the username and password that you use for image hosting can and should be different from the ones you use at the auction site.)
Now, upload the image files from your hard drive to the remote server -- this is usually done simply by dragging the icons into the FTP server window. The URL you'll use to point to the image depends entirely on where that image is stored. Most of the image hosting services provide simple instructions for determining your image's URL. It might look vaguely like this: http://www.myimagehost.com/myusername/mypicture.JPG.
AOL members can use an FTP client, but don't need one, since FTP is built into the AOL software. Go to keyword: FTP, then press the "Go To FTP" button. Choose "members.aol.com" from the list of sites, and press Connect. You'll automatically be connected to your personal FTP/Web space. Now press Upload to send your file.
After the auction is over, don't forget to use the delete function of your FTP client to remove the image files from the FTP server.